3M eyes 1b yuan super plant

Updated: 2013-06-13 07:35

By Ma Chenguang and Zhang Jun in Hefei (China Daily)

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3M Hefei, a major local branch of the US giant Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, plans to become a super manufacturing hub for the company, capable of producing a variety of products.

3M currently relies on around 10 single-product sites across the country, said Gordon An, senior manager of 3M Hefei, based in the capital city of East China's Anhui province.

The new plant is being built at a cost of 1 billion yuan ($16.3 million) in the Hefei State Hi-tech Industry Development Zone and will become the US company's biggest site in China, with production expected to be 2 billion yuan worth of industry and transportation-related products.

The products will include 3M Scotchshield Film, which is used in crystalline silicon solar photovoltaic modules, he said.

3M's 10 other bases in China are spread throughout Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Guangzhou.

One of the 30 constituent stocks of the Dow Jones industrial index, the World Top 500 firm has developed more than 60,000 high-quality products in its history, aimed at most major sectors.

"About half the world's population uses products from 3M directly or indirectly everyday," said An, adding that the first waterproof sandpaper was invented by 3M, which obtained 527 patents in the United States in 2012.

Jos Vets, vice-president of supply chain operations in China, said that with 11 manufacturing bases, 12 subsidiaries, 27 offices, one R&D center and four technical centers, 3M China has become the US company's largest operation overseas, providing almost 10 percent of its global income.

"3M Hefei is its first project in China to move away from the eastern coastal cities. The company is not in west China yet - but we are starting to go inland," Vets said.

"As a material supplier, we need to get closer to our customers. When more of our customers move towards the west, 3M China will set up more facilities in the west. That's our strategic plan," he added.

3M Hefei is being divided into two construction phases: an initial 204 mu (16 hectares) phase which started in October 2011 and which is nearly completed, and another covering 167 mu of manufacturing space.

"Compared with other companies, our speed of construction has been a little slower because of the unique processes we use," An said, adding that quality is paramount.

"The building's walls, which are made from special materials with the ability of self-cleaning after rain, can last for more than 50 years," he said.